You rarely see a flat roof on a single family dwelling in Minnesota. For natives the reason is obvious. Unless there is a reasonable slope and access to shovel it free from snow, the weight of the snow itself, or the seepage potential of the melted snow, can cause extreme damage to a home. Most houses have slanted roofs so snow slides off and water runs off—unless there is an ice dam. That’s when the snowmelt freezes before it can run off, creating a trap for subsequent snowmelt. Eventually, with more snow, there is a subterranean lake on the roof that is trying to flow somewhere. Given gravity, it seeps through anything it can to reach a lower point. The damage can be extensive and range from flooding to wall damage and fallen ceilings. If this happens to you, remember that ServiceMaster of Mankato and Waseca is your best solution for water removal and cleanup, and flood damage repair and restoration.
According to the University of Minnesota Extension Service, ice dams can happen because of quick changes in temperature, which have become more common in recent seasons. They can also be caused by insulation problems that make for inconsistent heat distribution under the shingles. Warmer spots, perhaps near heating conduits, melt first, and areas near the edge of the roof and the gutters may not melt at all. The ideal is to have the entire roof well insulated so it is the same temperature overall.
If you see uneven melting patterns on your roof, you may be able to add insulation in your attic or crawl space to keep warm air from rising through to the snow. If you suspect you have an ice dam you can carefully try to remove snow from the edges of the roof, though it’s always safer to call a professional so you don’t damage your gutters or have an accident.
Potential risks of ice dams include damaged wallboard and insulation, direct leaks through the roof and shingles, and the obvious damage to ceilings, electrical systems, and contents below. Have a safe season, but keep our number nearby. For residential water damage repair and reclamation, call ServiceMaster of Mankato and Waseca.